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7 of the best LGBTQ moments from TV last year.

How TV took the conversation way beyond marriage.

7 of the best LGBTQ moments from TV last year.
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Modern Love

Do you remember when Edith Bunker got a job at Louise Jefferson's store?

It caused quite a stir in the fictional Bunker household.

You see, the cantankerous "All in the Family" main character, Archie, didn't want his wife to take the job offer. Not only because it came from his archnemesis George Jefferson but because he was afraid of what people would think of his white wife working in a black man's store.


Those were the days. Image via John S./YouTube.

"What are the neighbors going to say?" Archie asked. "I mean the white neighbors. ... You working at a colored store? What are they going to say?"

"Well," Edith replied with her trademark combination of wisdom and naïveté, "I guess they'll just say, 'Hi, Edith!'"

TV shows often provide a cross-section of American culture. They have a unique, often subtle way of tapping into the important discussions and issues of the day, from race relations to gender roles to LGBTQ rights.

In the first year since the landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in June 2015, some of America's most popular TV shows have brought LGBTQ characters, issues, and discussions into our homes.

They've moved the conversation forward and helped ensure that LGBTQ rights remain something we all think about, talk about, and care about.

Here are seven of the biggest and best moments for LGBTQ characters from TV in the 2015-2016 season:

1. "How to Get Away With Murder" revealed its main character to be bisexual.

When the hit ABC drama premiered for its second season back in September 2015, fans got a glimpse into the mysterious past of protagonist Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) — which included the revelation that she's bisexual.

Davis was the first African-American woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

While the show is known for its twists and surprises, the moment wasn't played for shock. It simply added a new layer to the character. Shonda Rhimes, who created the show, even said that she's not trying to shock people. Just the opposite, in fact.

"I’m normalizing TV," said Rhimes at an awards gala. "I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people, equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary."

2. On "Empire," Jamal came out of the closet in a big, bold way.

The prodigal-son character Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) has had it pretty rough. When he was a child, his father literally threw him in the garbage for acting effeminate. While his mother was incarcerated, he was abused and told by his disapproving dad to "act like a man."

Which is why it was a pretty huge deal when Jamal came out of the closet, not hiding from his father, but right in front of him. On a stage. In a white suit. In song. At a massive party. Yeah.

Image via Empire/YouTube.

Even though Jamal knew his father would disapprove, he chose to publicly and epically embrace who he is.

Since queer men of color are hugely underrepresented on TV and in media, Jamal's primetime showstopper was an even bigger deal. Sure, not everyone can come out via a dazzling musical number, but it still shows that you should embrace who you are no matter what anyone says.

And why not go big while you do it?

3. "The Fosters" aired the youngest same-sex kiss in TV history.

"The Fosters," which is one of the most progressive and forward-thinking TV shows on air right now, took LGBTQ visibility to new heights when 13-year-old will-they-won't-they couple Connor (Gavin MacIntosh) and Jude (Hayden Byerly) shared their first on-screen kiss.

What's the big deal? Well just that it was the youngest same-sex kiss in TV history.

Image via The Nomad/YouTube.

Crushes and first kisses are a pretty huge part of everyone's young life, and "The Fosters" did an amazing thing by helping to normalize young same-sex romance.

The kiss was historic, but it was also just as heartwarming and sweet as any other first love story. Which is probably why the #Jonner fanbase was freaking the f**k out. (In a good way).

4. Over on Cartoon Network, "Steven Universe" featured a lesbian couple.

"Steven Universe" is a groundbreaking, envelope-pushing kids show about a young kid named Steven who protects the universe with gems.

In July 2015, it was revealed that Garnet, one of the show's side characters, is actually a fusion of two other characters — Ruby and Sapphire. After that reveal, series producer Ian Jones-Quarterly later confirmed that Ruby and Sapphire are a lesbian couple.

An adorable lesbian couple.


GIF from "Steven Universe."

"TV and movie representation matters," says Edward Schiappa, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota. According to The New York Times, Schiappa performed five studies that all showed that the presence of gay characters on TV decreases prejudice. "These attitude changes are not huge — they don’t change bigots into saints. But they can snowball." Schiappa said.

For kids watching cartoons, seeing LGBTQ characters can help dissolve some societal prejudices as early as possible.

5. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" shined a big spotlight on bisexuality and the problem of bi-erasure.

While there have been increasing numbers of gay and lesbian characters, bisexuality is still underrepresented on TV and is often misrepresented to the point of being harmful. According to GLAAD, only 18 bisexual men appeared on television in 2015, and many of them fell into "dangerous stereotypes about bisexual people."

Some of those harmful stereotypes include the idea that bisexual people are somehow more sexually promiscuous than others or that they simply haven't made up their minds about their sexuality yet and are really just gay or lesbian.

"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," a musical show about a New York lawyer who follows an old flame to California, decided to address all those stereotypes head-on when divorced-father-and-lawyer character Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) realized, later in life, that he was bi.

Image via The CW/YouTube.

He announced this to his colleagues in a musical number called "Getting Bi" which was simultaneously a jazzy smackdown of those who don't think that bisexuality is a real thing and a proud celebration of his sexual identity.

While bisexuality is still often misrepresented, it was awesome to see it addressed in such a big way.

6. Scott Turner Schofield became the first transgender man to star in a daytime soap opera.

It's hard to get more "Americana" than a daytime soap opera. While most shows come and go, soap operas like "The Bold and the Beautiful" remain, providing an ever-evolving canvas of characters and storylines that reflect the times.

When Scott Turner Schofield joined the cast of "The Bold and the Beautiful" in April 2015, he became the first openly transgender actor to ever play a major role on a soap.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for GLAAD.

His character, Nick, is a mentor and friend of another transgender character on the show played by actress Karla Mosley.

"I am grateful to be able to help uplift and honor ‪‎transgender‬ people in this moment. I had such help from my communities, becoming me," Schofield said in a Facebook post.

With millions of people tuning in to soap operas, Schofield's casting does a lot for trans visibility — something that the trans community continues to fight for.

7. "How to Get Away With Murder" featured an open and frank discussion about HIV and PrEP.

There's a reason "How to Get Away With Murder" is featured on this list twice. The show has done, and continues to do, a lot for LGBTQ visibility and representation.

One of the show's recent plot turns involved Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) revealing to his boyfriend Connor (Jack Falahee) that he is HIV positive. As that storyline played out, the two discussed options for continuing their relationship despite the diagnosis. Naturally, the conversation turned to the HIV prevention drug PrEP — which many couples use to stay safe.

Jack Falahee and Conrad Ricamora at the Point Honors Gala. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Point Foundation.

HIV overwhelmingly affects members of the LGBTQ community, particularly gay and bisexual men who account for two-thirds of all new diagnoses.

Safety and HIV prevention is a real concern but one that is often shrouded in secrecy and stigma. For a primetime TV show to openly discuss it is a huge win for public health.

All of these moments have contributed to something greater than just entertainment.

They've helped the LGBTQ community be seen and heard in new ways. They've pushed our often stubborn and slow-moving country a little further toward equal rights and made the discussion of LGBTQ equality about more than just marriage.

There's still a lot of work to be done. The LGBTQ community is still subject to prejudice, hate, and violence. After the shooting in Orlando, just one year after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, you probably don't need to be reminded of that.

But the more we embrace love — in our lives, in our hearts, and even on our TV sets, the better the world gets.

Nothing can stop the march forward.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Images via Canva and Unsplash

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

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Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

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